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Why Early STEM Education Will Drive the ­.s. Economy

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Young students.

The Obama administration continues to push for early learning in math and science education.


The Obama administration continued a campaign to advance math and science education last week, focusing on early learning with the announcement of a slate of projects designed to promote the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.

The projects include an alliance between the Education and Health and Human Services departments and the Too Small to Fail initiative to establish resources for families to help them "incorporate STEM concepts and vocabularies into everyday routines," according to the White House.

The Obama administration and the U.S. Education Department see early STEM learning as essential to elevating the national economy, with a forward-looking view of social and economic prosperity. "We would argue [early learning is]...a long-term investment that realizes savings in better long-term academic outcomes, better long-term health outcomes, better long-term success in the workforce," says Education Secretary John King. He refers to research estimating an eight-fold to nine-fold net yield over the initial investment in early STEM education.

Roberto Rodriguez, deputy assistant to the president for education, says the STEM fields' central emphasis on exploration and experimentation should naturally appeal to young children. "Part of a high-quality learning experience, whether in a child-care setting, whether in a preschool classroom, or a Head Start program, means having access to high-quality STEM learning," he says.

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